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USCIRF asks US to designate India as 'Country of Particular Concern'

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has advised the US Administration to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). Read More

Tuesday May 2, 2023 9:54 AM, ummid.com News Network

USCIRF asks US to designate India as 'Country of Particular Concern'

New Delhi: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has advised the US Administration to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

A similar recommendation was made by USCIRF four times in the past, though it was ignored by the US Administration.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief.

USCIRF in its annual report released Monday said it had recommended the re-designation of 12 countries as Country of Particular Concern (CPC), including Iran and Pakistan.

Besides, it recommended five additional CPCs status for Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Vietnam and India.

SL in Special Watch List

For the first time, USCIRF has proposed to include Sri Lanka in the “special watch list” or SWL.

The USCIRF 2023 annual report stated that conditions for religious freedom in India “continued to worsen” in 2022.

“Throughout the year, the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies, including laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, the wearing of hijabs, and cow slaughter, which negatively impact Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Adivasis (indigenous peoples and scheduled tribes),” said the report.

It noted that the US state department has not designated India, along with Afghanistan, Nigeria or Syria to CPC status “despite USCIRF’s recommendations to do so and its own reporting documenting the nature and extent of the religious freedom violations in those countries”.

USCIRF has been recommending India for the designation since 2020. Besides India, the US department has been largely ignoring USCIRF’s suggestion for a longer period for Nigeria and Syria, both of whom had been recommended as CPC since 2009 and 2014, respectively.

The USCIRF reminded that it had expressed “tremendous disappointment that the State Department failed to include India and Nigeria among its list of CPCs” in November 2022.

USCIRF's concerns about India

In the India section of the annual report, the USCIRF observed that India’s constitution established the nation as a secular, democratic republic and there are constitutional provisions that grant freedom of religion.

“Despite these secular principles, since 2014, the Indian government – led by the BJP – has facilitated and supported national and state-level policies that undermine religious freedom for minority groups,” it said.

Further, the Commission said that the government continued to “suppress critical voices – particularly religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf – including through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property, and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and by targeting nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)”.

Releasing the report on Monday, USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel urged the Biden administration to implement USCIRF’s recommendations – in particular, to designate the countries recommended as CPCs, and for the SWL, and to review US policy toward the four CPC-designated countries for which waivers were issued on taking any action.

“We also stress the importance of Congress acting to prohibit any person from receiving compensation for lobbying on behalf of foreign adversaries, including those engaging in particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion of belief,” he said.

As in previous years, USCIRF made four recommendations for the US government about India. Along with designating India as a “Country of Particular Concern”, it also called for the US government to condemn ongoing religious freedom violations and impose targeted sanctions on Indian government officials and agencies.

The USCIRF also called on the US Congress to raise “religious freedom issues in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and highlight concerns through hearings, briefings, letters, and congressional delegations”.



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